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Division of Communicable Disease control

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June 16, 2022

Related Materials: Latest CDC Monkeypox Health Alert ( | Latest California Monkeypox Health Alert | CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) | California Health Alerts | Monkeypox Q&A | Monkeypox Communications Toolkit

The current monkeypox situation is rapidly evolving and the information below will be updated as new information emerges.  CDPH is closely monitoring monkeypox transmission in the U.S. and California to ensure rapid identification of cases. The risk of monkeypox to the public is currently very low based on the information available.   

While monkeypox can infect anyone, many of the recent cases in 2022 have occurred among persons self-identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM).

For more information on frequently asked questions, visit the Monkeypox Q&A, and the CDC's webpage on Monkeypox in the United States. 

You can find monkeypox communication materials, such as social media and factsheets, on the Monkeypox Communications Toolkit. 

Monkeypox in California 

Number of Probable and Confirmed Cases

Data as of June 28, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

About Monkeypox 

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus which includes the variola (smallpox) virus as well as the vaccinia virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine. Monkeypox is of public health concern because the illness is similar to smallpox and can be spread from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus. Monkeypox is less transmissible and usually less severe than smallpox.   

Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 and occurs primarily in Central and West African countries. Historically monkeypox cases have occurred in the U.S. rarely and mostly related to international travel or importation of animals. There is a recent significant increase in reported cases where monkeypox is not commonly seen, including in Europe, Canada, the United States and California. While it's good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting monkeypox in the general public is very low.   


Monkeypox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.  

The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face. They may also be limited to one part of the body.  

People with monkeypox may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. Most people with monkeypox will get the rash or sores. Some people have reported developing the rash or sores before (or without) the flu-like symptoms. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed – this can take several weeks. 


Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.   

Monkeypox can be spread through:  
  • Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions  

  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing   

  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone  

  • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing  

  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)  

Monkeypox is NOT spread through:  
  • Casual conversations  

  • Walking by someone with monkeypox, like in a grocery store  

  • Touching items like doorknobs  


There are number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:  
  • Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus  

  • Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes  

  • Practicing good hand hygiene Isolation of infected persons until their symptoms, including rash, have gone away completely 

  • Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms  

  • Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus  

  • Avoiding contact with infected animals 

Monkeypox vs. COVID-19 

Although the sudden emergence of monkeypox can be alarming after over two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, monkeypox is not a new virus and does not spread in the same way as COVID-19. The table below shows a comparison of monkeypox and COVID-19.  




How widespread is it?

Typically found in or linked to central and western African countries.  Since May 2022, cases have been identified in many other countries, including the U.S. However, monkeypox is much less common than COVID-19. 

While it's good to stay alert about emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting monkeypox in the general public is very low.   

Hundreds of millions of cases since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, and still spreading widely throughout the world. 

When was it first identified?

Not a new virus – around since 1958.

A novel virus - around since 2019.

How does it spread?

By very close and/or prolonged contact with someone with symptoms, including through: 

  • Close physical/intimate skin-to-skin contact, including sex 

  • Contact with contaminated materials (towels, bedding and clothing) 

  • Respiratory droplets spread by close and prolonged face-to-face interaction 

Monkeypox is much less contagious than COVID-19. 

Through tiny droplets in the air by breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing. Is extremely infectious. Can spread from others who have the virus, even if they don't have symptoms. 


What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Rash with firm bumps on face, hands, feet, body, or genitals
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Low energy

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Stomach issues
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Cold symptoms

How is it prevented?

  • Avoid close physical contact with people who have symptoms, including with sores or rashes 

  • Talk to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes 

  • Avoid contact with , contaminated materials 

  • Wear PPE (mask, gloves, gown) if you can't avoid close contact with someone who has symptoms 

  • Practice good hand hygiene 

  • Get vaccinated and boosted 

  • Wear a mask in indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings 

  • Meet others outdoors or in well ventilated spaces 


Are there variants?

All viruses change and evolve over time, however, the monkeypox virus mutates slower than coronaviruses.   

There are two known families or “clades” of monkeypox virus. The clade recently identified in Europe, Canada, and in the United States is the West African clade, which tends to cause less severe disease.

There are many variants of SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19).  
This virus mutates rapidly. 

If you have symptoms

  • Always stay home if you're sick 

  • Cover any blisters or skin lesions 

  • Isolate from others, and wear a mask if you have to be around others 

  • Contact a health care provider right away to talk about diagnosis, testing, and treatment options. 

  • Always stay home if you're sick 

  • Get tested. 

  • If you test positive, isolate from others 

  • Contact a health care provider right away to talk about treatment options. 

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